Why The Royal LePage Shelter Foundation?
Back in 2009, I began to get more and more interested in the Royal LePage (RLP) Shelter Foundation. My career as a realtor was taking off and providing me with a good income. I felt that it was important for me to give back to the community that was helping to feed me and my family.
As I looked at it more closely, I became more proud of the company that I had joined. It is the only real estate company with it's own charity. All administrative costs of the RLP Shelter Foundation are covered by Royal LePage. That means that every dollar raised goes directly to where it's needed. And it is definitely needed.
The RLP Shelter Foundation is the largest source of private funding for women's shelters in Canada. It is dedicated to helping women and children that are victims of domestic abuse. I was inspired to try and make a difference here in Vancouver.
It's not an easy subject, and if addressed, it is usually by women. It seemed to me that there weren’t many men standing up publicly against violence towards women. I wanted to find a way to create a highly visible campaign headed by a man to speak for this all-too-important cause that affects 1 in 4 Canadian women.
Why the Grouse Grind?
When I thought about how I could do that effectively, my mind went to fitness right away. In fact, it went immediately to the Grouse Grind. That's something that everyone in Vancouver knows. It's a challenge most of us have faced at least once. At the very least, we can all relate to how hard it is to do the Grouse Grind once.
The 2.9km Grouse Grind trail, also known as “Nature’s Stairmaster”, is a path up the side of Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver. This vertical ascent was initially established by local mountaineers as a convenient, intense off-season workout. It takes an average hiker about 1.5 hours to complete the trail with an average grade of 30 degrees. My average over 13 grinds in 2009 was 52 minutes and it was 50 minutes over 14 grinds in 2010.
At the time, I was spending a lot of time on Grouse Mountain. It had become a bit of an obsession for me. I was going up the Grind 3 or 4 times a week, with the goal of trying to improve my single ascent time. I had met a couple of people that were pursuing a different type of challenge...attempting to see how many times they could reach the top of the Grind in a single day.
That was back in 2008 and the record at the time was 12. That blew my mind. I couldn't imagine doing the Grind more than once, let alone 12 times in a row. But before long, I couldn’t get the idea out of my head (I do love a challenge). Attempting to break that record was what I had to do and that year I managed to match the record of 12.
The Grouse Grind was something that I was good at, and would also connect with many people in Vancouver. It became clear to me that this was the ideal venue to try and make a difference. Not only would it be a newsworthy event that could get a good buzz going for the Shelter Foundation but also, hopefully inspire others to support me by donating to stop violence against women.
In June 2009 I climbed the Grouse Grind 13 times in 1 day. It was the most difficult thing that I had ever done in my life, draining me both physically and mentally.
I started very early in the morning, at 6:30am, and finished just past 11pm. The vertical distance of the hike could be compared to climbing the equivalent of Mount Everest 1.5 times in a day or walking up the Eiffel Tower 116 times or Toronto’s CN Tower 68 times. I burnt approximately 15,000 calories.
However, I decided to do it again the next year. In 2010, I broke my own record and reached the summit of the Grind 14 times.
The events raised close to $20,000 combined and my dream of getting news coverage for the RLP Shelter Foundation came true. I was shocked at the media response ~ it was the #1 news story in BC that day and I will always feel grateful for the support I received (it even received some national press attention).
I am often asked about the nitty gritty details of what going through the climb was really like. The answers are sometimes unglamorous ~ and were featured in numerous media outlets at the time. You can check out some of the articles that I have curated here if you would like to know how I trained, what I ate and some of the more personal details of the wear and tear this type of endurance event has on the body.
I don’t think I’ll be doing the climb again any time soon. I might try for 15 one day ~ but I promised my family that I’d take a few years off before I try again…